In Part two of the “Home Sweet Home”series, we revisit the Alamodome and relive some of the memories it brought us Spurs fans.
Talk about going from one extreme to another. After the Spurs organization decided to leave the loud, intimate, Hemisfair Arena, the Spurs relocated to the Alamodome in 1993.
The Alamodome was originally built to attract an NFL franchise to San Antonio but it was touted as a muti-use facility and the Spurs became the primary tenant. The dome was curtained off in half allowing for seating capacity of 35, 000 for home games. It was the largest NBA facility during it’s time. As awesome as that may sound, having 35, 000 Spurs fans, the dome was not all it was cracked up to be.
It was cavernous, players complained of bad sight-lines, and it pushed the fans further away from the action, something the old Hemisfair Arena did not. The Spurs went away from traditional retired jerseys hanging from the roof and made these huge murals that were sewn into the dividing curtain for retired Spurs players. Was not a good look.
If that wasn’t enough, came the night of the water cannon incident. It was the 1994 home season-opener for the Spurs and the night began with fireworks. Because of the smoke generated, the Alamodome water cannons sprang open soaking fans in the stands.
However as much as the Alamodome was a huge flop for basketball purposes, it did bring us some memorable moments in Spurs history. One of the best is the “Memorial Day Miracle.” It was Game 2 of the 1999 Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and Blazers. The Blazers led throughout the entire game and were up as much as 18 points. Stop me if you heard this before: the Spurs were down 83-85, 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Elie inbounds the ball to Elliott, Elliott tip-toes the sideline, his heels never touch the floor, he releases a “3”, Rasheed Wallace stretching for the block, basket good! The Spurs first lead in the game was the final score, 86-85, Spurs win, propelling them to the series win and to their first ever NBA Championship.
As memorable as the “Memorial Day Miracle” was, the single best memory is celebrating the Spurs first NBA title in the Alamodome. After beating the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden in the 1999 NBA Finals, the Spurs brought back the trophy for the Riverwalk parade and then a huge celebration in the Alamodome. The players on stage, each player taking turns to thank the Spurs fans, the trophy on display and tons of Spurs fans on hand to enjoy every single moment.
It gave us other memories such as coaches Jerry Tarkanian, John Lucas and the beginning of Gregg Popovich’s career. It gave us the prime years of David Robinson, his quadruple-double against the Pistons, David Robinson’s 1995 MVP year, heartache against the Rockets in the 1995 NBA Western Conference Finals, the Dennis Rodman experiment, the 1996 NBA All Star Game, the start of a young then unknown point guard Tony Parker and the beginning of the Tim Duncan era.
After the 1999 NBA title, the Spurs began to become widely popular, the organization began plans to move out of the Alamodome and seek out a smaller, intimate, basketball friendly arena. It was always seen as a temporary stop for the franchise until a newer arena could be constructed. The Spurs moved out of the Alamodome after the 2001-2002 NBA season.
Top 5 memories from the Alamodome:
5. Water cannon incident
4. 1996 NBA All Star Game
3. Memorial Day Miracle
2. Beginning of the Tim Duncan Era and the “Twin Towers”
1. Celebrating in the Alamodome the Spurs First NBA title in 1999
Come back next week as we conclude this series as Project Spurs will relive moments in the AT&T Center. But we leave you with the Spurs finest hour, the 1999 NBA Finals.